Most would-be reformers of social media want to rewrite Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which largely exempts social media companies from legal liability for what users post on their sites. But attempts “to ‘fix’” Section 230 would massively backfire, forcing Twitter, Facebook, et al. to heavily censor all controversial posts on all their sites lest they be sued into oblivion.
We often forget, however, that Section 230 doesn’t forbid suing users of social media for libel or holding them accountable. The problem is anonymity. The nastiest and most irresponsible posters hide behind fake names and handles. Forcing users to register with, say, a credit card or other ID and use their real names might cut the sites’ user bases in half, but “advertisers would rejoice”—and it would limit the need for “tens of thousands of content moderators.” If you post threats or libelous attacks on people, you will risk getting sued. “Post about buying zip ties and invading the Capitol, and the FBI knocks on your door.” Ending anonymity “would put an immediate damper on today’s worst offenders.”. (Andy Kessler,The Wall Street Journal, 2/3/2021).
My comment: There should be no “get out of jail” card for anonymous posters. If you are so frightened of commenting in your own name – then why? Have the courage of your own convictions, even if you risk conviction. Cowardice seems to be a rapidly expanding disease, in parallel with covid 19, and we should have a treatment for it – openness and ownership of views, however disagreeable.
And for the record: this blog expresses many opinions, day by day, that I happen to know are not shared by some readers. But I have a right to express them, and am willing to defend them if challenged, without thinking up some stupid bogus handle to hide my identity.